CTV Ottawa newsroom destroyed in overnight blaze
Published Sunday, February 7, 2010 4:18PM EST
Flames tore through CTV Ottawa's newsroom early Sunday morning, causing more than $2.5 million in damage and destroying local news archives.
Seventy firefighters battled for more than two hours to control the blaze, which broke out sometime before 4 a.m. at the Merivale Road building.
Video recorded at the scene showed smoke pouring out of second-storey windows as firefighters battled flames that shot up from the roof.
"Crews did an excellent job holding it," said District Fire Chief Jim Corrigan.
"We managed to contain the fire to the second-storey of the building. However, smoke migration made it to the fifth floor."
While a security guard was on duty when the fire broke out, no injuries have been reported. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Merivale Road has been closed between Clyde and Baseline Roads.
According to Corrigan, although damage is currently estimated at $2.5 million, that figure could climb much higher due to the expensive equipment in the building.
In addition to equipment for reporters, producers, editors and other staff, the building contains local news archives, as well as a video history of veteran anchor Max Keeping, who will retire on April 1.
"Just like someone who loses their home – we rebuild. The entire news operation is gone and we are grateful that no one was hurt," Keeping said.
Louis Douville, CTV Ottawa's general manager, said operations will move to the A Channel building in the Byward Market for the time being.
"Our management team had put in place a very comprehensive plan to deal with emergencies like this," Douville said. "They are things we prepare for but hope will never happen."
Staff will not be allowed into the building for several days, Douville added. The station will hold a staff meeting on Monday to tell about 100 employees where they will be working, "either at home or perhaps at the A Channel building or somewhere else."
A structural engineer examined the building Sunday afternoon, and said that work will need to be done to keep the structure safe. Cables holding up a broadcast tower on the building's roof need to be tested. Insurance people and clean up staff will then begin to work on the site.
It's not clear how much of the archives have been lost. Videotapes were stored in several parts of the building, which was built in 1961 and housed CTV National News offices for many years.
The $2.5 million cost of the fire excludes the loss of expensive cameras, computers and other technical gear, suggesting the cost could rise much higher.
CTV affiliates in Toronto and Montreal are providing cameras and editing equipment, while some Ottawa residents have offered office space.
The "community response has been amazing," Douville said.